Wednesday, January 13, 2010


I'm 31 years old and I just started (seriously) attending college a couple of years ago. One of the things that professors love to talk about are labels. My History of Rock and Roll professor (pause for snide comments) went on and on about how we are all brainwashed by labels. Therapists believe this too. My shrink calls them "rules," but it's just a matter of semantics. Labels are thought by most people to be a bad thing. If you want to test this theory, just ask somebody the dreaded question: What kind of music do you like? People hate this. Do I answer with artists? Genres? Specific Osmonds?

I would like to relay an instance in which labels helped me immensely. I don't know when it started, but as far back as I can remember my mom bought TV Guide at the grocery store. It was way better than the TV listings that came in the newspaper. TV Guide was much more accurate. The Guide was especially accurate when it came to labels. The labels I am referring to are Nudity, Violence, Adult Language, and Sexual Situations.

The new TV Guide would hit our coffee table around Thursday of each week. After confirming its arrival, I would bide my time until I could be all alone with the movie index at the back of the issue. Using my uncanny ability to memorize text, I would make mental notes of each and every movie that carried the mark of excellence: the R rating. Once those titles were extracted like so many shallow dwelling fish, I would narrow my selections down to the films that bore the mark of the beast: Nudity.

In the newspaper TV listings this label was applied to movies that were on the premium channels, as well as those that appeared on basic cable. The problem with this is that the movies on basic cable were (and are) edited for time and content. TV Guide only focused on the premium channels. This lesson was learned the hard way after getting burned by about five connsecutive weeks of Night Flight, later to become the more egregious trojan horse of false ass kicking: USA Network's Up All Night. I think I got sandbagged by Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama twice.

The TV Guide movie index was responsible for exposing me to such cinematic snack cakes as The First Nudie Musical, the Emmanuelle series, Whore 2, and Night Eyes 3. These films featured soft core stalwarts like Shannon Tweed and Krista Allen, full on porn stars like Marilyn Chambers, and post-prime heroes like Mark Hamill, Marc Singer, and Michael Des Barres. The latter three all starred in Silk Degrees which, luckily, had nothing to do with Boz Scaggs. Now that I think of it, I should revisit Silk Degrees and write a review. I hope somebody dares me to connect The Beastmaster to the lead singer of Silverhead in less than six degrees. I'll do it in one silk degree, thank you. The movie had little steam action, but the cast made it worth while. I mean, it even has Gilbert Gottfried in a starring role. Which brings us back to Up All Night. This is a tight knit community of stars.

I learned that the Sexual Situations tag meant nothing unless it followed the Nudity warning. I learned that, when presented with a Nudity donnybrook on mutliple premies, always go Cinemax. ALWAYS go Cinemax. I learned that films containing the word "bikini" in the title usually contained multiple scenes of bikinis being removed. And though I make hay of all the awesome stars I saw in these films, I knew that name recognition usually meant that there would be limits to the level of awesomeness. When faced with no-names versus celebs, go with the kids with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

If I had written this post many years ago, I would have fashioned it into a big brother's guide for hormonal shut-ins. However, kids these days have the internet. Talk about a frontal lobe snow blower. I can't imagine how severely my 13-year-old Catholic brain would have fried in the world wide wonderland. I probably would have ended up like Leigh McCloskey on the other side of Dawn.

The moral of the story is that labels can be very helpful. Though the label "punk," like new wave and alternative, has been dismissed by some as a marketing tool, I would have never known who The Dictators, Legs McNeil, The New York Dolls, or the MC5 were without it. Without parental advisory labels, I would have never known that the heavy metal equivalent of MAD Magazine was GWAR. Without cartoon character labels, I would have never known how insanely good Count Chocula or Fruity Pebbles were. The list of things that made me happy, yet kept me from getting a girlfriend, could fill a Starfleet command bridge. All of which were discovered because of labels.

So I would like to encourage all the conglomerates and moral kommissars who define subversive art, offensive music, sugary cereals, and softcore porn to continue labeling away like an anal retentive media tech teacher. Without labels I would probably be bored or really into something lame like camping at the river or something. Your obsession with labels has acted as a virtual trail of breadcrumbs that has led me to thousands of hours of bichin' entertainment. Furthermore, I would have never learned how to use these labels without TV Guide and Mom. Thanks for everything.


As a parting gift, I leave you with two track's from Silverhead's 1973 classic, 16 and Savaged. Fittingly, the songs are titled "Heavy Hammer" and "More Than Your Mouth Can Hold." In addition to Michael Des Barres on vocals, Silverhead features Robbie Blunt on guitar, Rod "Rook" Davies on the other guitar, Pete Thompson on drums, and the great Nigel Harrison of Blondie fame on bass. As Robert Pollard would say, "If you don't want it, don't buy it." But if you do like these songs, go find the album and buy a copy. It's really amazing.

"Heavy Hammer" will act as a sort of segue into our next full episode of BAPR, The Strut Rock Primer.


  1. I just knew I must have done at least one thing right along the way. You just never know what's going to matter most. Sometimes it really is the little things!

    You're a great writer, Joshie. I look forward to reading more.

  2. Great writing Josh. While I don't agree that labels are that great (d'ya know how many people think NICKELBACK is a rock band), I like the way you included links for every reference in your post. I already knew Boz Scaggs is from Cleveland, but I've never seen that Count Chocula commercial. Looking good man.

  3. While Nudity was the most intriguing tag for a young boy delving into the mysteries of sexuality, as I grew up (relatively speaking) I realized that Nudity without the accompanying Sexual Situations might only mean occasional glimpses of T&A, certainly not enough to *ahem* sustain my interest. The film that featured the best synthesis of the two tags, though, and that was skilfully edited to include almost all original flesh (on daytime regular tv, at that!) was Paradise. It blew Up All Night films like The Pom Pom Girls out of the water. Nevertheless, don't you miss the simpler times of USA Up All Night, the kind of basic cable you could both watch with your dad one week and treat your body like an amusement park to the next.

  4. Hey Josh, I just found this via Cheese's neglected blog, and can't wait to read more posts. I'm amazed that you've managed to cohesively reference both Silverhead and "Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-o-Rama" in the same post. I, too, was burned by that damned movie on multiple occasions, as were my brothers. We still reference dialogue that we memorized while patiently waiting for a pair of tits or two to grace the screen.
    "You know about the imp?"
    "Look, old man, we don't have time for your games!"
    Awesome blog, keep up the good work, dude -don't give up on it like ^^ did!

    Sam (Shane's friend)